Patient Drowns in Creek After Alleged Improper Discharge; Facility Accused of Poor Elopement Precautions

The family of a deceased former patient alleges that he was improperly discharged from Friends Hospital without family notification, even though he experienced hallucinations and presented a danger to himself. Shortly after being discharged, the patient wandered into the woods and, according to the autopsy report, committed suicide by jumping into a creek. The facility is accused of failing to consult with the patient’s referring physician prior to discharge, to make proper discharge arrangements, and to thoroughly search and complete a missing persons report with the police.

The family also charges the facility with negligence for failing to establish and/or enforce emergency policies and procedures to retrieve so-called “walk-aways” or eloped patients. They allege that the facility had inadequate alert/security systems and insufficient personnel “given the size and forestation of the campus.”